The amazing migrations of Ringed Plover, concerns about Spotted Redshank and lessons from Little Tern conservation …
… just three of the highlights from WaderTales in 2018.
Seventeen new WaderTales blogs were published during the year, bringing the total so far to 65. There are three articles about Black-tailed Godwits (total now 16), two more focusing upon Icelandic research (total 8) and lots of new single-species and conservation-related tales to catch up on. The most widely-read blog is a review of global survival rates in waders and the least popular (so far) is one that looks at site fidelity in breeding Black-tailed Godwits.
There are several WaderTales blogs about the expanding population of islandica Black-tailed Godwits and the fast-disappearing limosa birds. This year, it was a pleasure to report on the success of ‘head-starting’ as a means of boosting the British breeding limosa population.
- Just one Black-tailed Godwit tells one godwit’s life story for the three years after ringing, using observations by birdwatchers in four countries.
- Site-fidelity in Black-tailed Godwits looks at how the head-starting programme to support the East Anglian population of limosa might be affected by philopatry.
- Head-starting Success reports on the joint RSPB/WWT project to increase the Black-tailed Godwit breeding population in the Nene, Ouse & Welney fens.
The range of wader research in Iceland has expanded over the years and these blogs give a taster of the the breadth of the work.
- Mission impossible: counting Iceland’s wintering Oystercatchers reveals that surprisingly large numbers of birds adopt the stay-put strategy.
- Designing wader landscapes investigates whether breeding densities of waders can be maintained, as farming expands and intensification increases.
This section is a bit of a miscellany. Each blog is focused on a particular species and is usually based on a scientific paper that highlights a broader issue of conservation importance.
- Well-travelled Ringed Plovers from Chukotka in north-east Russia spend the winter in Somalia, Egypt, the Red Sea & the Persian Gulf.
- Green Sandpipers and Geolocators summarises a Ringing & Migration paper about changing behaviour patterns in Green Sandpipers that wore geolocators.
- Fewer Spotted Redshanks reviews migration patterns and changes in abundance of the species, in a British & Irish context.
- Starting moult early focuses on the timing of moult in Golden Plover populations. It turns out that it’s tough to find a three-month period in which to moult.
- Iceland to Africa, non-stop discusses the speed of migration of Icelandic Whimbrel in spring and autumn.
Issues in wader/shorebird conservation and science
Waders across the globe are subject to huge pressures, with several species close to extinction. In some areas we are seeing reduced annual survival – which is a serious issue in species which were thought of as long-lived birds – and many populations are finding it hard to raise sufficient youngsters to sustain numbers.
- Waders are long-lived birds! Some thoughts on the longevity records for BTO-ringed wader species and the value of monitoring survival.
- Measuring shorebird survival is a global review that explores the geographic, seasonal and sex-based variation in survival rates across wader families.
- Curlew Moon has at its heart a review of Mary Colwell’s book of the same name but also summarises some of the issues being faced by Curlew in Ireland and the UK.
- Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew in France provides background to the debate about a hunting ban or moratorium in France.
- Tool-kit for wader conservation provides an overview of the tools that are available to conservationists and site-managers working on wet grasslands.
- Deterring birds of prey summarises a paper about Diversionary Feeding; one way to keep protected predators away from wader chicks.
- Leg-flags and nest success investigates whether nesting success of small waders (shorebirds) is affected by wearing leg-flags.
Want to read more? To see a full list of the WaderTales blogs that have been published since 2015 CLICK HERE.
Graham (@grahamfappleton) has studied waders for over 40 years and is currently involved in wader research in the UK and in Iceland. He was Director of Communications at The British Trust for Ornithology until 2013 and is now a freelance writer and broadcaster.